Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

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source: Purchased
title: Starry Night: A Christmas Novel
author: Debbie Macomber(Twitter)
genre: contemporary holiday romance
published: 2013
pages: 231
first line: Carrie Slayton’s feet were killing her.
rated: 3 out of 5
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blurb:
’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

My thoughts:

I was in a Christmasy mood so I ordered a copy of Starry Night a few weeks ago. I am a seasonal reader and I try to enjoy at least one holiday book this time of year.
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Starry Night is my first time reading Debbie Macomber. I’ve often seen her books around and I know she is popular in the genre and that some of her books have been made into Hallmark Christmas movies. In the foreword for Starry Night she mentions that she writes a Christmas book every year.

While I found Starry Night to be sweet Christmas romance, it did not blow me away like I wanted it too. It revolves around Chicago based columnist Carrie Slayton who is about to quit her job because she can’t see herself getting ahead with no serious assignments only gossip column stuff. Her boss tells her that if she can find and interview mysterious author Finn Dalton then she will have more serious assignments moving forward and be able to advance her career. Finn wrote a book about living in the wilderness that became an international bestseller and he has gone into hiding ever since. With the holidays around the corner Carrie decides to use her vacation time to find the mysterious Finn.

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Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel by Mia Hopkins

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source: free ARC via NetGalley/Randomhouse/LoveSwept
title: Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel
author: Mia Hopkins/ Twitter
published: March 13, 2018
pages: 254
genre: contemporary steamy romance
first lines: You want a hero. Before we start, you should know-I’m not him. I’m not your hero.
rated: 3 out of 5  1heartred1heartred1heartred

blurb:
My name is Salvador Rosas. Back in the barrio, my past is written on the walls: ESHB. Short for East Side Hollenbeck, my father’s gang—my gang. Hell, it’s a family tradition, one that sent both my brothers away. They used to call me “Ghost” because I haunted people’s dreams. Now I’ve got nothing going for me except a hipster gringo mentoring me in a new career. An ex-con making craft beer? No mames.

Still, people in this neighborhood look out for one another. That’s how I became Vanessa Velasco’s unwelcome tenant. Chiquita pero picosa. She’s little, but with curves so sweet they’re dangerous. I remember Vanessa from the old days, the straight-A student with big plans. Plans that were derailed by another kid stupid enough to think he was bulletproof. Now Vanessa knows better than to believe in empty promises. There’s fire in her . . . and if I touch her, I might get burned.

I’m trying everything I can to go straight. But when East Side Hollenbeck comes calling, I might have to risk it all to find out if there’s a future for Vanessa and me. Because she’s the only one who can quench my thirst for something real.

my thoughts:
You know how sometimes you don’t realize something right away? I’m trying to think of an example to elaborate further but it eludes me right now.

I have to say right off the bat that Mia Hopkins is a great writer, I enjoyed her writing style and Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel drew me in from page one. This is one of those books you can read in one sitting, I read it in two. The story is told first person POV by Salvador Rosas a.k.a. Ghost. I requested this one from NetGalley because I saw it revolved around Latinos. Being Puerto Rican myself this book intrigued me straight away because the main characters are Latin and I enjoy good romance. I haven’t read a full on romance novel featuring Hispanics before. Like ever. I’ve never really come across any. And I read alot of romance, it is a favorite genre but the couples are usually white. So guess what happened when I finally found a romance novel centering on a Latino couple? Guess.

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The hero is a gang-banger. Ghost is Mexican, he has recently finished serving a five-year prison stint for car theft. He’s a janitor now. And duh, this is all in the blurb I know. It didn’t dawn on me until I started reading. I decided to keep reading because like I said the writing was very good. I didn’t like the stereotypes here though and they did bother me. I think the author wrote a good book but it is just that for my first time reading a Latin centered romance, I didn’t like that the hero was a gang-banger. So, I read on and I actually enjoyed the story. I will say, it is a story about getting your life together so the plot was full of hope and redemption.

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Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

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source: purchased
title: Nights in Rodanthe
author: Nicholas Sparks
genre: contemporary romance
pages: 212
published: 2002
first line: Three years earlier, on a warm November morning in 1999, Adrienne Willis had returned to the Inn and at first glance had thought it unchanged, as if the small Inn were impervious to sun and sand and salted mist.  
rated: 5 out of 5
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blurb:
Adrienne Willis is 45 and has been divorced for three years, abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. The trials of raising her teenage children and caring for her sick father have worn her down, but at the request of a friend and in hopes of respite, she’s gone to the coastal village of Rodanthe in North Carolina to tend the local inn for the weekend. With a major storm brewing, the time away doesn’t look promising…until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. At 54, Paul is a successful surgeon, but in the previous six months his life has unraveled into something he doesn’t recognize. Estranged from his son and recently divorced, he’s sold his practice and his home and has journeyed to this isolated town in hopes of closing a painful chapter in his past. Adrienne and Paul come together as the storm brews over Rodanthe, but what begins between them over the weekend will resonate throughout the rest of their lives, intertwining past and future, love and loss.

my thoughts:
Nights in Rodanthe is a re-read for me. After hitting a mini reading slump with the mystery book I was reading, I decided to grab something I knew I would enjoy to try to get back on my reading track.

There is something about a Nicholas Sparks book, they are definitely comfort reads for when I am in the mood for romance with heart. They are the literary equivalent of a cozy cup of hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. According to Goodreads, I first read Nights in Rodanthe in 2010. I really enjoyed it the second time around.

“Despite all that had happened in the years that had passed since then, Adrienne still held tight to the belief that love was the essence of a full and wonderful life.”
– Nicholas Sparks, Nights in Rodanthe

My favorite Sparks novels center around middle-aged couples like Adrienne and Paul. In this one these two are both at a crossroads in their lives. Adrienne’s husband left her a few years ago for a younger co-worker. She is raising three teenagers on her own and works part-time at the library after being a housewife and stay at home mom all her married life. She still grieves the loss of her marriage and throws herself into working and being a caretaker leaving no time for herself.

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

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source: purchased
title: Ugly Love
author: Colleen Hoover/ Twitter
published: Atria Books (August 5, 2014)
pages: 324
first line: “Somebody stabbed you in the neck, young lady.”
genre: new adult contemporary romance
rated: 4 out of 5 stars for angsty romance and second chances because love bites but it is worth it
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blurb:
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

my thoughts:

Ugly Love had me feeling a few different emotions while reading it, I laughed, I teared up a little and I got irritated with some of the characters actions. This was a quick read, and a sad one too.

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Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn

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source: free review copy via Net Galley
title: Christmas at Conwenna Cove
author: Darcie Boleyn
published: Oct 2017
first line: “What on earth is that?”
genre: contemporary holiday small town romance
rated: 4 out of 5 stars for sweet holiday romance
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blurb:
Pack your bags for a festive trip to Conwenna Cove, just in time for Christmas…
When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there, 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Will the rude and abrupt local vet Oli Davenport soften up and give Grace more of a reason to stay?

It’s been two years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. He loves his eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything, and his world revolves around being both mum and dad to his children. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto the fear of letting someone into their heart.

As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?

my thoughts:
This is the time of year when I’m already getting into the Christmas spirit and Christmas at Conwenna Cove was the perfect read to start off the holiday season. I read this one as part of Kim’s Ho Ho Ho Read a Thon last week and I really enjoyed it.

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